Champion Mario Mosbock!

Final tables during the Triton Series’ first trip to Monte Carlo have fallen into a pattern. One player has had a dominant chip lead when the last players sit around a single table, but that person never quite closes the tournament out.

In the very first event to conclude here in Monaco, that player was the Austrian pro Mario Mosböck, who ended up finishing second in the $200K Invitational, despite leading the last nine.

Mosböck, 27, learnt his lesson. As they pushed towards the final table in today’s $40K Mystery Bounty event, he allowed Michael Soyza to rush into an enormous chip lead. But when final-table play began, this one was all about Mosböck.

At around midnight local time, Soyza was gone and Mosböck closed this one out by beating Imad Derwiche heads up. It landed Mosböck his first Triton title, a payout of $718,000 and the last of 10 bounty tokens, which he’ll convert into at least $40,000 apiece at the mystery bounty draw tomorrow.

Derwiche provided the entertainment and a measure of competition, but Mosböck was a player in a groove. He had a big heads-up lead, which was enough to turn him into a champion, the first time all the chips went in.

“I got engaged last month,” Mosböck told Ali Nejad, when asked what had happened to improve his game so dramatically since his last trip to the Triton Series. “I took a little break from poker. I feel great. I love it.”

Mario Mosböck with fiancee Amanda

The former soccer pro added that his comfort with high-level competition assists him at the poker table. “It helps quite a bit,” he said. “These situations are very high pressure. I am used to playing football at a high level, so I can get my head in the right place.”

He fiancee Amanda, supporting him throughout the final from the rail, also came on stage to pose for the winner’s photo. Fedor Holz popped his head in too, supporting his friend.

The Vienna crew have crushed this week in Monte Carlo, and we are not done yet.


As always, the Mystery Bounty element of the tournament attracted a particular excitement as it got under way on Day 2. Although Day 1 was all about chip accumulation, the second day brought the extra bounty dynamic and you need look no further than the pre-bubble period to discern how play can change.

With 28 players left, one from the money, Henrik Hecklen pushed for his last 10 big blinds. Viacheslav Buldygin looked at his cards in the big blind and said, “I think I’m going to call.”

He got a count, double checked his stack, and then called. He had 3h2h. Yes, three high. Hecklen’s KcTc held up, and Buldygin lost another chunk of his stack when he called Punnat Punsri’s shove on the next hand.

This time, Punsri had tens and Buldygin had sixes and the bigger pair stayed best.

Despite Buldygin’s best efforts, the bubble actually burst on a neighbouring table. That’s where action folded to Jans Arends in the small blind and he moved all in, covering Lun Loon’s smaller stack in the big.

Lun Loon bubbled

Look, however, found AdKd and was flipping against Arends’ pocket fours. There was an ace in the window but a four just behind it. The set finished with a full house and Loon was toast.

The rest were all now guaranteed a payout from the main pool, but there were still bounties to be collected too.

None of Hecklen, Arends or Punsri made it to the final, but Buldygin did, despite those two lost pots ahead of the bubble. They were only a handful of the well known players who perished before the last eight, and it left us with what amounted to a largely unfamiliar last eight.

Michael Soyza – 118 BBs
Sammy Bolung – 55 BBs
Imad Derwiche – 38 BBs
Mario Mosböck – 34 BBs
Axel Hallay – 24 BBs
Steve O’Dwyer – 24 BBs
Fahredin Mustafov – 18 BBs
Viacheslav Buldygin – 14 BBs

Triton Monte Carlo Event 8 final table players (clockwise from top left): Sammy Bolung, Axel Hallay, Mario Mosböck, Imad Derwiche, Viacheslav Buldygin, Michael Soyza, Steve O’Dwyer, Fahredin Mustafov

Only a few days ago, we watched the former professional footballer Mosböck take a wrecking ball to the deep stages of the $200K Triton Invitational, before finishing in second place. Mosböck’s return to the final today started from lower down the counts, but progressed in similar fashion as he sent Fahredin Mustafov to the rail in eighth, before taking huge chunks too from Axel Hallay.

First things first: Mustafov hit the rail in a spot that would likely have accounted for anybody. He opened with Ad9d, then called Mosböck’s three bet, taking them to a flop of 8c4h9c. Mosböck bet, Mustafov jammed with his top pair, but quickly learnt that he was behind Mosböck’s pocket jacks.

After blank turn and river, Mustafov left with $88,000, plus whatever his two bounty tokens bring him tomorrow.

Fahredin Mustafov: first out from the final

Sammy Bolung was only playing his second tournament on the Triton Series having made his debut on the VIP side of the draw in the London Invitational. He had looked very comfortable in this open-entry event, and held the chip lead for a while in the run up to the final.

Things didn’t go in his favour when there was only one table left, however, and he lost a major chunk of his chips to Axel Hallay’s rivered straight, before losing the very last few to Imad Derwiche, whose Ad2c beat Bolung’s QdTd.

Bolung nonetheless cashed for $121,000, nearly three times as much as his previous combined poker tournament haul.

Newcomer Sammy Bolung landed on a final table in only his second tournament

Six players were now left, but it rapidly became five when Buldygin’s rocky road reached its end. This one was another flip, which came about after Steve O’Dwyer pushed from the button with pocket sevens and Buldygin woke up with AsKd in the big blind.

Buldygin made an obvious call but hit nothing on the flop and O’Dwyer took this one down. Buldygin banked $166,300, plus one bounty.

Viacheslav Buldygin’s tournament comes to its conclusion

Hallay made his debut on the Triton Series in Cyprus this year, and although he cashed once, he never made a final table. This tournament represented his deepest run by quite a distance — but it ended in a fifth-placed finish.

As noted, Hallay lost a lot of his stack to Mosböck, when the latter played flopped trips beautifully. Hallay had top pair and ended up calling Mosböck’s huge river bet, all but doubling up the Austrian. Hallay could only tread water for a few orbits, before losing another nasty pot to Mosböck.

This time they got it all in pre-flop, with Mosböck’s QcTd making a straight to defeat Hallay’s pocket jacks. Hallay won $216,500. (He didn’t capture any bounties.)

Axel Hallay thinks about what might have been

It’s time now for the line that makes it to all reports this week: the tournament was now pretty shallow. There wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle room out there, evidenced by the fact that O’Dwyer became the next man out.

O’Dwyer proved during his turbo event success that he can pick his spots precisely in this short-stacked environment. But, to be honest, who is ever going to get away from pockets kings in a battle like this? It’s just that Mosböck had pocket aces.

That spelled the end for O’Dwyer, and sent him looking for $272,000 at the payouts desk. Mosböck was a big chip leader three-handed, with Michael Soyza and Imad Derwiche with their work cut out.

Kings into aces did for Steve O’Dwyer

Derwiche managed an early double, turning his pocket tens into a flush. But when Soyza was all in for the first time, his Ac5d lost to Mosböck’s AhJd.

Soyza dragged in a few bounties before they got to the final table, so he’ll have those to complement his $333,000 third-place prize. But that chip-leader curse struck again, and he still hunts his third title. For Mosböck, however, he continued to grab yet more valuable bounty tokens, as well as the chips to give him a huge heads-up advantage.

A tough final for Michael Soyza

Mosböck had 26 million (66 big blinds) to Derwiche’s 6.1 million (15 big blinds).

They went back and forth for a little while, and Derwiche initiated a fun game where the winner would show one card to the player he beat out of the pot. Mosböck obliged and the two saw at least half of each other’s bluffs (or value bets).

However, Derwiche didn’t have enough chips to do much damage and the final hand came about when Mosböck completed from the small blind, Derwiche shoved and Mosböck called. It was 8c5c for Derwiche and QhTh for Mosböck. There were no dramas.

The chatty Imad Derwiche makes his requests from the dealer

Derwiche won $484,000 plus one bounty token. However, Mosböck’s haul guarantees him at least $400,000 more tomorrow, and his second seven-figure score of the trip.

Those soccer fields seem a long way away…

Fedor Holz, right, joins the winning couple


Event #8 – $40,000 NLH – 7 Handed – Mystery Bounty
Dates: October 30-31, 2023
Entries: 162 (inc. 66 re-entries)
Prize pool: $6,480,000 (inc. $3,240,000 in bounty pool)

1 – Mario Mosböck, Austria – $718,000 (+$720K from 10 bounties)
2 – Imad Derwiche, France – $484,000 (+$80K from one bounty)
3 – Michael Soyza, Malaysia – $333,000 (+$280K from five bounties)
4 – Steve O’Dwyer, Ireland – $272,000 (+$240K and Bombay yacht stay from three bounties)
5 – Axel Hallay, France – $216,500
6 – Viacheslav Buldygin, Russia – $166,300 (+$100K from one bounty)
7 – Sammy Bolung, Indonesia – $121,000 (+$720K from four bounties)
8 – Fahredin Mustafov, Bulgaria – $88,000 (+$140K from two bounties)

9 – Jean Noel Thorel, France – $72,000 (+$200K from one bounty)
10 – Julien Sitbon, France – $61,500 (+$80K from two bounties)
11 – Leon Sturm, Germany – $61,500 (+$200K from one bounty)
12 – Jonathan Jaffe, USA – $53,500
13 – Punnat Punsri, Thailand – $53,500
14 – Isaac Haxton, USA – $48,500
15 – Sam Greenwood, Canada – $48,500
16 – Johannes Straver, Netherlands – $43,500
17 – Luc Greenwood, Canada – $43,500
18 – Artur Martirosian, Russia – $38,800 (+$80K from two bounties)
19 – Bryn Kenney, USA – $38,800
20 – Paul Phua, Malaysia – $38,800
21 – Jans Arends, Netherlands – $35,600 (+$200K from four bounties)
22 – Lewis Spencer, UK – $35,600 (+$40K from one bounty)
23 – Ragnar Toompere – $35,600
24 – Francisco Benitez, Uruguay – $33,000
25 – Morten Klein, Norway – $33,000
26 – Henrik Hecklen, USA – $33,000
27 – Timothy Adams, Canada – $33,000

Orpen Kisacikoglu, Turkey – $80K from one bounty
Maher Nouria, Tunisia – $40K from one bounty

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive